I will start this review by saying that I’m a fan of SXM’s work and I’m also a fan of her. I like Susan and have a lot of fun chatting with her, both on Cocktail Hour and through other venues. That being said, I am completely comfortable giving a very honest review of The Crush. And I’ve got a bit of bullshit to call, too.
Ok, with the disclaimer out of the way, let’s get on with the review, shall we? The Crush’s blurb is sort of long so I’ll just sum it up for you: Nicola Bagnolesi (Bah-nyo-lazy – if I remember correctly from the book) works for her father’s advertising company in Chicago. She’s sort of lazy and does the bare minimum to get her job done. She’s good at what she does, she just does as little of it as possible. Her father, Aldo, inherits a winery in Italy but, because of some legal stuff that I won’t go into, a family member has to be there to run it. Aldo, who I’ll from now on refer to as Aldouche, decides she’s the perfect choice to go for the two years or so until he retires and can move. Nic quickly figures out that what she thought was a simple caretaker job was going to be much more demanding.
Nic, a people person, finds herself isolated and miserable so she treks out to one of the only gay bars around and meets the lovely Chiara Bellini. Chiara, who should from now on be referred to as My Pretend Wife, and Nicola are immediately drawn to one another and, a very short time later, become lovers.
So here’s what I thought of the book. I fucking loved it. So there. You probably want a little more detail than that, though, so I’ll give you some reasons why I loved it. In no particular order, I loved the setting. Meagher brought the area to life for me. And I don’t just mean the land and buildings but the culture. I saw someone, I can’t remember who, say on Susan’s Yahoo! group (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SX_MeagherUpdates/) that the location itself was a character and I completely agree. I loved learning about the Contrade from Chiara. Shit, I loved reading anything that My Pretend Wife wanted to share, to be honest. I could feel the history and Chiara’s love for her family and neighborhood and it was wonderful.
I also enjoyed that nothing was easy about running the winery. It felt much more authentic that way. Aldouche, the father, was maddening in his lack of confidence in Nic’s ability to run things and constantly second guessed her. Actually, the term “second guessing” is much too generous. I wanted to kick him in his man bits in nearly every scene he was a part of.
I’ve written my bullshit calling two different ways and I’m afraid I’ll give something away that could be considered a spoiler and I don’t want to do that. So I’ll try it in a cryptic way that you’ll probably agree with once you read it. If you do, you can post a cryptic comment to let me know. No sex doesn’t mean no attachment.
I nearly forgot that I wanted to mention that I liked the second half of the book a bit more than the first. The first half spent a lot of time laying down the foundation of the story and tension building and such. If you’re reading it and feeling your attention waning at all, just keep going. I think you’ll agree that it will be worth it. Also, by “half” I have no idea if it was really half. Just keep going if you’re feeling it drag a little. That’s all.
If you’d like to hear the author read the part where Nicola and Chiara meet, she did a reading for us at Cocktail Hour Productions so click here to listen!
The Crush weighs in as my third favorite of Susan’s books with All that Matters and Almost Heaven taking first and second, respectively. I love those two so that should tell you how much I enjoyed The Crush. I want to mention that, unlike some of Ms. Meagher’s books, The Crush is 100% penis-free.
You can buy it, and all of Susan’s books, through Brisk Press or Amazon. Unless you’re a die hard Amazon shopper, buy it from Brisk. It’s Susan’s company and she gets to keep more of the profit and offers fantastic customer service. If you buy from Amazon, C-Spot Reviews and Cocktail Hour get a few pennies. If you’re a fan of SXM’s work, it doesn’t matter where you buy it, just pick it up. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.